Mercury Free Dentistry

What Is Dental Amalgam?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Dental amalgam is the mercury based silver filling material that has been in use for about 200 years. Dental amalgam has been banned in some countries around the world but is still in use in some dental offices in the United States.

You will never find dental amalgam at Wilbanks Smile Center, unless it is an old filling being removed from a patient so it can be replaced with a modern filling material.

Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury (a known neurotoxin), silver, and several other metals. Dental amalgam fillings tend to expand and contract when exposed to heat or cold – think of drinking coffee or eating ice cream. This constant expansion and contraction can cause damage to the surrounding tooth and creates small cracks in the filling. This allows bacteria to enter and eventually leads to decay below the filling.

New tooth colored filling materials not only avoid the look of the ugly black filling, they also serve to strengthen the damaged tooth rather than creating further damage.

Want another reason to avoid dental amalgam? How about the environment? Some estimates say that dental mercury results in over 28 tons of mercury being released into the environment each year! Dentists who remove old mercury fillings from patients use special filtration systems to capture this toxic waste in an attempt to reduce the impact on the environment.

Yet another reason why Wilbanks Smile Center doesn’t provide mercury based amalgam fillings – our own health! We don’t want to be exposed to a toxic substance like mercury every day of our working lives and we don’t think our patients should be exposed to this risk either.

If you have old mercury amalgam fillings it may be time to replace some of them. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Water Fluoridation Good For Adults and Kids

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Fluoride has been added to water systems for many years. Originally it was thought that the fluoride would benefit children and that it would take many years to see the benefits of reduced tooth decay. New research has shown that water fluoridation is good for adults and kids.

A team from the University of North Carolina and the University of Adelaide in Australia studied the effects of water fluoridation in Australian adults. Australia only started fluoridating their water in recent years. The study concluded that the cavity prevention effects of water fluoridation were as great in adults born before widespread fluoridation as for those after. So even if you didn’t grow up in an area with fluoride in your water, if you move somewhere where the water is fluoridated as an adult you will still see benefits.

The study showed that adults who spent more than 75% of their lifetime living in a community with water fluoridation had significantly less decay than those who had lived in one for less than 25% of their lifetime. Preventing tooth decay for both adults and children is something dentists work toward every day — especially when we remind you to brush and floss!

Both adults and kids still get cavities — just fewer than we used to see. The good news is that modern filling materials are better for your teeth, last longer and are basically invisible because they are tooth colored. The old fashioned mercury amalgam fillings would expand and contract in response to heat and cold which could lead to cracked teeth and leaky fillings. Modern composites actually make the structure of the tooth stronger when they are placed.

Wilbanks Smile Center has installed special filtration systems to protect our staff and our environment from the toxic waste when old mercury fillings are removed. We are committed to providing the highest standard of care for our patients and our beautiful home in the North Georgia mountains.

Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to schedule your next visit. We can be reached at 706-886-9439 and are waiting to take your call.

Do You Want 150 Year Old Fillings?

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Dental amalgam or silver  fillings  have been used for over 150 years.  Most people wouldn’t be happy with a hospital that suggested using a treatment that was century old technology so why would we accept this for our smiles?

Amalgam fillings were initially created as a low cost alternative to gold fillings – the only filling material available at the time.  The original recipe contained silver shavings, zinc, copper, tin and mercury.  We now understand that mercury is a powerful neurotoxin but it is still in use.  This controversial substance is still  used by some dentists because of its low cost and because it is quick and easy to use. Not a good standard for health care decisions.

In addition to the toxic mix that makes up dental amalgam, there are other risks to these old fashioned  fillings.  The amalgam material is very sensitive to temperature changes – it expands and contracts in the presence of heat and cold.  This often causes small cracks and fractures in the filling which can cause tooth sensitivity or even weakening of the tooth.  The tiny cracks can also allow bacteria to enter through the filling leading to additional decay and creating a bigger problem in the future.  The dark fillings are also  very unattractive and cause dark shadows and black spots on an otherwise pretty smile.

Dentistry today offers many different types of composite filling materials that are bonded to your tooth structure.  These composites protect against future decay and help strengthen the tooth as well.  Once bonded in place, a composite filling won’t change shape or be affected by what you eat or drink.  Best of all, because these fillings are matched to your natural tooth color, they are virtually invisible when you smile.

Mercury fillings have long been controversial and, as time goes on, more and more dentists are following the lead of offices like Wilbanks Smile Center and getting the mercury out of their offices and out of the mouths of their patients.  Better health and a more beautiful smile can be achieved with the replacement of old fillings.

If you are concerned about your old mercury fillings contact our Toccoa, GA office today at 706-886-9439 and find out how we are working to keep mercury waste from old dental amalgams out of our beautiful mountain environment.


Dr. Oz Enters Mercury Filling Debate

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

The debate over mercury amalgam fillings has raged in the dental community for years. In the US about half of dentists use mercury amalgam fillings and the other half do not. Some European countries, including Sweden, have banned the use of mercury amalgam fillings for health reasons and because of environmental concerns. The mercury waste from these fillings can find its way into the water supply and mercury waste is considered extremely hazardous.

Dr. Oz recently had an episode that was all about the dangers of “silver fillings“.  Amalgam fillings are not made of silver – they are about 50% mercury mixed with a bunch of other metals. The danger of this mercury content is what Dr. Oz and his experts were discussing. Mercury is a neurotoxin, it attacks your nervous system and can cause symptoms ranging from tremors to mood swings. Memory loss and fatigue are common signs of mercury toxicity.

The American Dental Association feels that amalgam is a safe and cost effective restoration material. It is cheap and easy to use and that is why so many high volume dental clinics still use the stuff – but as Dr. Oz’s guest explained, there are so many better filling materials available today. Why use a material that was invented 150 years ago? Newer material actually bond to the teeth to strengthen it even though it has a filling. Amalgam fillings, in contract, weaken the tooth structure and tend to expand and shrink when exposed to hot or cold, further weakening the tooth. A tooth colored restoration not only looks better, it is better for your tooth structure and your health – isn’t that worth a small extra price?

One question asked was “Should you have all your old amalgam fillings removed”? One audience member had removed her fillings and many of her symptoms resolved or lessened. Because mercury fillings break down over time you may have to get them replaced as the years go by. When there is decay below the filling, when the filling has cracked or deteriorated it should be replaced.

Mercury vapors can be released by chewing or grinding your teeth. If you grind your teeth you may want to watch this demonstration of the release of mercury vapors simply caused by brushing your teeth. This may be one of the few reasons to go ahead and replace your old fillings immediately.  Another reason may be unresolved health issues that no one seems to be able to diagnose – you may simply be more sensitive to mercury than others.

Find out more about your options for mercury free dental care and how Wilbanks Smile Center is protecting our environment from mercury waste by contacting us at 706-886-9439 today.




Mercury Toxicity in Dental Fillings

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Those old silver fillings consist of about 50% mercury and this is why many people choose to have their old fillings replaced with modern materials.silver vs composite fillings

But what happens when the dentist drills out those old fillings? Is it dangerous to the patient or the dentist during removal?

At Wilbanks Smile Center patients don’t have to worry about the removal process. We use the Isolite System to protect our patients. The Isolite System is a wonderful device that not only provides working light in the mouth (always a good thing), it constantly suctions away debris and vapors while simultaneously isolating the area being worked on. No stray amalgam bits can fly into the back of the mouth!

Protecting our patients is vitally important but we also believe in protecting the environment. Because mercury is a neurotoxin  it is vitally important that we keep it from entering our water supply. Wilbanks Smile Center has invested in state-of-the-art technology that captures waste dental amalgam for special disposal.

Many countries around the world have banned or limited the use of dental amalgam. Unfortunately in the United States the material is still in use for economic reasons – it is a cheap and easy to use filling material for dentists. Wilbanks Smile Center does not use dental amalgam to restore teeth. There are so many materials today that are so much better aesthetically and functionally.

Find out more about improving the health and beauty of your smile by getting rid of those ugly black mercury fillings by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439.

CEREC Omnicam Makes Single Visit Restorations Easy

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Getting your dental restorations, including crowns, veneers, inlays and onlays, in only one visit sounds too good to be true. But using the CEREC Omnicam makes it easy!Wilbanks omnicam

Wilbanks Smile Center has always used cutting edge dental technology to make the dental experience better for our patients. The  CEREC Omnicam, a powerful 3-D intraoral camera that not only lets us view the inside of your mouth in 3-D, it also creates the digital impression that is then used to make your restoration right in the office, immediately!

This means that all needed treatment can be completed in one appointment. No temporary crowns to fall off, no messy impression material to gag on, and no reason to come back in a week or two to complete your dental work (unless you just want to stop in to say Hi). The restorations created by CEREC are incredibly durable and clinically proven with more than 25 years of supporting research. The crowns and other restorations are custom color matched to your existing teeth and are all porcelain, meaning they have the translucent lifelike appearance of your real teeth.

Find out more about single visit dentistry using the CEREC Omnicam by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439. Your perfect smile is closer than you think!

Can Vitamin D Reduce Tooth Decay?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

A review of existing studies, published in Nutrition Reviews, seems to point to a role for vitamin D in helping to reduce the rate of tooth decay. The clinical trials reviewed spanned about 0 years and 3,000 children in several countries. The review showed that vitamin D was associated with an approximate 50% reduction in tooth decay.

Vitamin D is the nutrient that supports bone health – we have known that for years. But whether or not the vitamin can also help prevent tooth decay has been the subject of disagreement for many, many years. “My main goal was to summarize the clinical trial database so that we could take a fresh look at this vitamin D question,” said Dr. Philippe Hujoel of the University of Washington.

The findings of this review don’t surprise many researchers familiar with past vitamin D studies. Dr. Michael Hollick of the University of Boston Medical Center said “children who are vitamin D deficient has poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries.”

Currently vitamin D levels are decreasing in many populations and tooth decay in children is increasing. Dr. Hujoel said “Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralized.”

Good sources of vitamin D include: Cod liver oil (that might be a hard one to sell to your kids), salmon, tuna, fortified milk and yogurt, some orange juice now has vitamin D added, and of course our bodies create a certain amount of vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight!

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next checkup and ask about all the ways you can protect your child from tooth decay. Remember, we never use mercury fillings in our office.

Can Cavity Proof Teeth Be In Our Future?

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Researchers from Yale and the University of Chile have discovered a molecule that kills the bacteria that cause tooth decay. The bacteria called Streptococcus Mutans turns sugar into an acid that damages tooth enamel and leads to cavities.

Jose Cordova of Yale and Erich Astudillo from Chile named the newly discovered molecule “Keep 32″ in reference to the 32 teeth in the human adult mouth. They hope to incorporate the molecule into a mouthwash or lozenge form which would kill the bacteria in about a minute.

About 73% of all people have cavities and this research is aimed at reducing that number. Previously researchers at UCLA’s College of Dentistry had developed a mouthwash that eliminated almost all the decay causing bacteria over a 4 day period.

Dentistry keeps trying to put itself out of business by preventing problems before they start! Until we can effectively eliminate Streptococcus Mutans (without killing off the good bacteria in our mouths) we will have to rely on old-school prevention measures like brushing, flossing and getting regular cleanings.

Once tooth decay is discovered you no longer have to worry about those unsightly silver mercury fillings — Wilbanks Smile Center is a mercury free facility and our patients are treated using modern tooth colored composite filling materials.

To schedule your appointment please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

The Parts of a Tooth

Friday, September 16th, 2011

What do you think of when you hear the word tooth? Maybe you think of a healthy white tooth, perhaps tooth decay or maybe even tooth loss. Most people don’t think very much about the different parts that makeup a tooth – until something goes wrong.

The part of the tooth that we see above the gumline is called the crown. The part that we can’t see below the gumline is the root which extends down and anchors the tooth to the jawbone. Each individual tooth is made up of four types of tissue:

  • Enamel is the hard substance that covers the visible part of your tooth. This translucent substance is  hardest substance in the human body and protects your teeth from decay.
  • Dentin is the layer found below the enamel. This substance is calcified and looks like bone. The dentin is not as hard as enamel and is likely to become decayed if the enamel is missing from the tooth.
  • Cementum is light yellow in color and covers the tooth root and helps anchor the root to the bone. This substance is softer than dentin or enamel but is usually covered by the gums. If the gums are worn away or shrink because of disease or damage then the cementum can become the target of harmful bacteria.
  • Pulp is the substance that forms the center of your tooth. This part of the tooth contains blood vessels, nerves and other tissues that deliver nutrients to your tooth.

Keeping your teeth healthy starts with good home care. This means brushing and flossing daily to remove harmful bacteria that can break down the enamel of your tooth. Using fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild damaged enamel.

Once decay has occurred your tooth cannot heal itself. The good news is that cavities can now be filled with tooth-colored composite restorations which allow you to maintain a beautiful, white smile. No more ugly, black, mercury amalgam fillings. These restorations are more than just cosmetically pleasing, they are also strong, durable and less reactive to heat and cold than old-fashioned fillings.

To schedule your appointment for restoration of a dental cavity please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 828-627-9282. Located in beautiful Toccoa, GA we are your one-stop-shop for all your dental health needs.

Mercury Based Fillings Still Used In Large Dental Clinics

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The Journal of the American Dental Association just reported that US dentists are still placing more mercury based amalgam fillings than composites and that dental schools are still emphasizing the old-style fillings. Researcher Dr. Sonia Makhija of the University of Alabama said “I thought that most people were using composite.” She went on “It was surprising that so many people are using amalgam.”

I agree with Dr. Makhija, these findings are surprising considering the improvements in resin-based composite technology in the past several years and the fact that silver amalgam fillings are almost one-half mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Composite fillings are more natural looking because they are tooth-colored. They also are less invasive because less tooth structure needs to be removed and studies have shown they are just as durable as the old-style fillings.

The study did note that large group dental practices which typically employ new dental school graduates place more mercury based amalgam fillings. These large practices use materials that may be dictated by managers rather than dentists themselves.  For these types of  clinics “It’s quicker, it’s easier and it’s cheaper to use amalgam” said Dr. Makhija.

Wilbanks Smile Center is a mercury free practice and we are proud to offer our patients only the finest in restorative materials. Avoiding mercury is healthier for our patients, our team members and our environment.

Please contact our Toccoa office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment. We’ll be happy to explain Mercury-Free Dentistry and how it benefits you!

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